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What the big B should offer? In the horns of a dilemma MS Installed 1800 parties registered with EC – Less than 60 contest elections Much ado about nothing Kudos to GIM organisers... BJP can now hasten its thrust for reforms No groundnuts in groundnut oil! Low profile moves The Great Fall Skewed Economic Zones? A gratifying record Economy through the month South India’s 100 most valuable companies INDIA keeps its date with destiny The deluge and the several kindly souls Truce at Kasturi Buildings Focus on southern TN... An eco-friendly commute in Mysuru Wanted: decentralised financial system Ganesh’s mantras Trail-blazing Tamil Nadu Sustainably developing manufacturing sector… Why (not) abolish? Cleansing Indian retail An eventful week with VVIPs of Delhi Rail-road Rajaraman Pool energy prices If not Tamil Nadu, where else? Strategic planning the missing link Oh my GOLD Policy Makers Sowing seeds of hope A dual GST that will protect prosperous states Outward ho Babes In the wood-RBI North block has little clue to curb inflation A Fine division of responsibilities After all, customer is the king Healthy finances of the Chennai Corporation Tryst with GST You too T M Krishna? Technology and economic development should be linked It’s raining funds for states. Really? Weaving wealth of western Tamil Nadu Better relations with UK... Much can be done by us Indian GST – Between extremes… PC please be our Santa Miles to go... A historic indirect tax reform Tax evaders’ get out of Jail-Free Card CSR, tech revolution and bank crisis Why throw baby with bath water? Babes In the wood-RBI North block has little clue to curb inflation TN - so much to offer... Star of the South CAD and the emergency thereof Research for survival... They add lustre to Padma Awards Jobs - Lost, Changed or Gained When the examiner cheated... Welcome move to widen the tax net… Make way for Make in India... Land, land everywhere, but... Industry can’t get it from Mars, yet Deming awardees galore! Public investments and welfare will surge Welcome Measures. Work for 10X Change Reform this licence to…kill Need plan over the long term planning Sardar Sarovar – the seventy year itch How will it PAN OUT Need for radical RBI reform Little surplus after salaries, subsidies and debt servicing Breaking news or breaking credibility? A tale of two Bihar babus Welcome rains for damaged roads... Two welcome measures from the chief minister... A blueprint for the future Well-administered State Chennai Airport-Ready for a rapid take off... Focus on agriculture and human resources
 
Pool energy prices
The gregarious Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a key member of the team that unleashed reforms in 1991, has an uncanny ability of explaining intricate economic issues in lucid terms and has been a great asset for the UPA.
HE CANDIDLY CONCEDES the many shortfalls in the administration that come in the way of delivering results.

He says that till 2008, we grew at 9 per cent despite the compulsions of coalition politics and points out that since then with most countries hardly growing, India’s 5 per cent growth is not all that bad. He points out that the average growth of 8 per cent during the Eleventh Plan period was the highest for any plan period, it was just less than the target set of 9 percent.

Excerpts from his address at the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industy (SICCI).

Need to boost the manufacturing sector

The immediate agenda is to make the manufacturing sector do better. Two ministries, mining and infrastructure, hold the key. Both the Centre and the states must put tonnes of effort in taking performance to the next level. A lot depends on the private sector.
Major issues relate to three areas:
•    Power: clearances for large projects were delayed due to regulatory issues.
•    Fuel supply for power was a major constraint
•    On regulatory clearances, we need faster turnaround.

Due diligence has become a joke

Many seem to be eager to question the legitimacy of projects. Activism seems to be on the rise with an eye at stopping projects. PILs are piling before the apex court. Everybody wants power but nobody wants power projects! Gram Panchayats complain of no consultations. We should have meetings with Gram Panchayats and videograph these. Objections range from lack of approval from Gram Panchayats to cutting of trees. Lot of earth is removed for building roads. Is it a mining activity? Mud is classified a minor mineral! In that background due diligence has become a joke.

Quick clearance the imperative

The Cabinet Committee on Investment, set up for quick clearances, even suggested giving up a major
hydroelectric project on which Rs 900 crore had already been spent.

We have added a lot of capacity for power in the Eleventh Plan; yet large capacity is lying idle. While generation capacity has increased, availability of coal and gas has not.

Imported coal is thrice as costly as indigenous coal. We should go for pooling of prices but the Coal Ministry is not agreeable to this. Coal sector has problems of expanding capacity.

The problem is worse for the gas sector. With domestic gas price frozen at $4.20, even while imported gas costs over $14 per 1000 BTU, pooling of prices is a must.

Looming water deficit...

Growth is broad-based and inclusive, thanks to the accelerated growth of agriculture. But sustainability is a
serious concern. When GDP grows at 9 per cent and agriculture at 4 per cent, demand for water will increase. We will face a large water deficit. Agriculture uses 80 per cent of fresh water. In most states it is free, but this is not sustainable and we need to focus on more efficient use of water.

Electricity is underpriced. We need to eliminate these distortions in the next five years.  
All these are words of Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a man who seems to mince no words.  

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